Do you know that you can improve your intuition?

Intuition, so often equated with emotion, is in fact based on logic, and not only logic, but super logic.

We know from brain research that the upper part of our brain, the cerebral cortex, consists of two distinct parts, joined by a sophisticated network of nerves that shuttles information between the two sides. This giant ‘thinking cap’ is the most developed part of your brain and contains your full range of mental skills, such as logic and analysis.

These intellectual skills are supplemented by your five senses. Working together they help you to survive in the world around you.

What is intuition?

The Webster-Merriam dictionary defines intuition as “the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.”

Wikipedia calls intuition “the ability to acquire knowledge without recourse to conscious reasoning.”

Let’s look at what actually happens in an intuitive situation.

Imagine, for example, entering a room where you suddenly feel that it is either welcoming or somehow threatening. In such a situation, your brain completes the most amazing calculation. In a split second, using all your cortical skills and senses, plus the database of your entire life-to-date, it performs an instant compare/contrast with the many new items the room presents to you.

Your brain then punches out a probability estimate of your chance of survival in that room. Depending on the probability print-out, you will either relax or you will tense up. Research has shown that acting upon what is mistakenly called ‘gut feeling’ (from now on you can call it ‘brain feeling’) is successful more than 80% of the time, and that if you train your intuition, the success rate rises.

How to improve your intuition

Here are some ways you can improve your intuition and make it even more powerful:

Exercise practiced by martial artists

Stand with your eyes shut and ask a friend, standing some feet away, to approach silently. You then say ‘stop’ when you feel that your friend is only an arm’s length away. Try this and you’ll find how rapidly your brain can learn to do this.

Develop your senses

Test yourself on distinguishing different smells. For example, look at a vase of flowers and try to associate what you see with what you smell. Close your eyes and by smelling the aroma of the flowers, try to remember what you have seen – thus enhancing the link between the sense of smell and your intuition. Then open your eyes to see how accurate you were. Continue this process until you can hardly tell the difference between eyes open and eyes closed. do similar exercises with your other senses.

Mindfulness techniques

If you are into mindfulness techniques, try using them to improve your intuition. When you are doing the mindfulness body scan, for example, feel the sensations in your body, and find out what they are telling you. After some practice, your feelings will improve your intuition and help you make better decisions.

Meditation can also help improve your intuition. When you meditate, tune into your inner voice and listen to what it is telling you.

Note your reactions

Each time your intuition is correct, try to analyse what it was that made you accurate. There is much you can learn from this analysis.

Should you improve your intuition?

Many people treat intuition as some sort of “gut feeling”. According to psychologist Daniel Kahneman, intuition is thinking that you know without knowing why you do.

Studies have shown that intuition works very well in some areas, but fails horribly in other areas. So, should you improve your intuition?

Definitely yes! And it is possible to improve your intuition. In many situations, intuition stems from experience and expertise. The more experience and expertise you have in a particular area, the more intuitive you will be in coming up with quick answers.


References

  • Buzan, Tony. “Boosting Your Intuition.” Adapted with permission.
  • Kahneman, Daniel. “Studies of the psyche: Intuition.”
  • Kahneman, Daniel. “Thinking, fast and slow.” Penguin Books, 2011.